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File taxes early so bad guys don’t get your return first, experts say

SEATTLE — It’s the yearly responsibility.

Filing your taxes can be confusing and intimidating for some.

It’s also a time when bad guys are out trying to steal tax returns.

On Monday, Q13 News met Anthony Ramirez at the Seattle Central Library doing his taxes on the first day IRS was accepting tax filings.

Ramirez was taking advantage of United Way’s free tax services.

An expert quickly walked him through the process and Ramirez learned he would be getting some money back.

United Way says their experts can maximize the returns people get but also help identify problems.

“There are definitely security threats people face all the time,” Emily Vyhnanek said.

The Better Business Bureau is also warning the public about IRS scams, specifically phone calls that say you owe the government money. They are scams fishing for your personal information.

Kelci Marx got the call twice this month.

“I felt kind of panicked and worried, kind of so upset,” Marx said.

When Marx called the number left on her voicemail, the person on the other line kept asking for her name. Marx says she realized that it was a scam and luckily she hung up before giving out any vital information.

But she worries about others.

“I definitely do think they can get away with it, especially for young people and the older generation,” Marx said.

But even if you didn’t get the same call, your information could be in the wrong hands already.

The BBB says that with big breaches, including the Equifax hack last year, people have to be vigilant this tax season.

“I saw your guy’s report about the BBB recommendations to get it done early,” Ramirez said.

If there is one main piece of advice, it’s to file your taxes earlier than later.

Because if crooks have your information, they could try to get access to your tax returns -- and refund -- before you can.

Lucky for Ramirez, he’s already done.

United Way is providing tax services at 30 different locations this year.

If you make $66,000 or less, you could qualify for the free service.

The organization says they expect to help more than 23,000 people, bringing back $30 million in tax refunds. That's lot of money you do not want crooks to steal.

If you would like more information on United Way’s service you can go to freetaxexperts.org

This year's deadline is April 17, which means you get two extra days to file your taxes.